Ownership of Walden's Landing changes hands

Nov. 29, 2013 @ 12:31 AM

 Walden’s Landing is now in the hands of the lender that helped finance the development, but the change in ownership isn’t expected to have a major impact on tenants.

According to information filed with the Sevier County Register of Deeds, Investors Warranty of America took over ownership of the land at a value of $3.4 million. The company is another arm of the same lender that they used to pay for the property, according to local businessman Ned Vickers, one of the former owners of the mall. The land was owned by Holrob Pigeon Forge Partners, and Holrob’s management wing will continue overseeing it, Vickers said.

“That shows you what kind of relationship we have with the company,” he said. “They have faith in what we’ve done.”

With Holrob managing the property, there shouldn’t be any noticeable change for tenants at the mall, which includes the county’s only movie theater. Their rent will even be paid to the same address, Vickers said.

The mall started struggling to make payments during the recession and never completely recovered, according to Vickers.

They lost a number of smaller retailers in 2008 and 2009, and lowered their rent as a result. That left them unable to make payments to the lender, he said.

Holrob worked closely with the lenders to try to keep the property, and at one point were only making interest payments on the property. When they resumed making payments on the principal, he said, they found that they couldn’t make enough from the tenants to keep up with the payments.

They tried to market the property, but could not find a buyer at the price they needed, he said.